How should business approach embedding the SDGs into their core business?

The SDGs provide a framework for a global society to coordinate on finding a path to improving the human and planetary condition. A key point of departure in the case of the SDGs is that this coordination is no longer the exclusive domain of the heads of state or international agencies or development organizations, as it has been in the past. The private sector in all its forms—big business, the garage entrepreneur, the young person on the street armed with a mobile phone, the investor—has a seat at the SDG table to join in the problem solving.


With 17 goals and 169 targets, the SDGs are far from being manager-friendly; approaching the goals as a whole runs the risk of reducing the SDG agenda to an exercise. In order to make these goals more actionable, perhaps it is better to first view them as a logical system; for example, with some goals as endgames, others as essential building blocks, and yet others as enablers. Each company’s management must create its own pathway through the SDGs – where do you propose they begin?


1. Should a business start with the SDGs and look for opportunity, or start with existing business and sustainability strategies and build from there?


2. At a practical level, what do the SDGs add to existing business sustainability strategies?  What should companies be doing differently as a result of the SDGs?


3. What tools do businesses need to facilitate deeper engagement with the SDGs? How should business report its contributions to the SDGs to meet the expectations of government and civil society stakeholders?


This discussion is part of a Challenge on embedding the SDGs into business with the UK’s Department for International Development, Pearson, De Beers and Cemex. This online discussion will inform the development of a guide for business managers. It will also feed into the Fletcher School's Annual Inclusion Forum (Inclusive Inc) happening in Boston later on Wednesday.


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Thanks for joining everyone!  That provides us with a great foundation for the discussion that will happen over the course of the day at the Inclusive Inc Unconference, being organised by the Institute of Business in the Global Context at the Fletcher School, Tufts University.

We will leave this discussion open - please continue to post your comments!

Thank you all for a lively conversation. Check out our case study series on Inclusive Business and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) here:

Also look out for our report on the Inclusive Innovators, coming soon here:

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